UCL Grand Challenges


Contact us

Contact the team with any queries, for funding application advice or with ideas for partnerships.

Dr Ian Scott

Dr Ian Scott
Director of Grand Challenges & Cross-Disciplinary Development

Ian joined UCL Research, Innovation & Global Engagement (formerly Office of the Vice-Provost for Research) in 2009, one year after the inception of the Grand Challenges programme.

Ian joined UCL from the Wellcome Trust (1987-2008), where he developed and managed UK and international collaborative grant schemes in the biomedical and cell sciences, population and reproductive health, mental health and neuroscience.

Ian’s background is in Biochemistry (BSc, Liverpool; PhD, Bristol), with postdoctoral research appointments at the University of Dundee, University of Helsinki, Abo Akademi and the MRC Developmental Neurobiology Unit.

E: ian.scott@ucl.ac.uk

Dr James Paskins

Dr James Paskins
Deputy Director of UCL Grand Challenges

James joined UCL in 2001 as a Research Fellow in the Department of Civil Engineering. His research work included children’s health and travel behaviour, accessible transport, urban design and wellbeing. He is a member of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Prior to joining the Grand Challenges team, James was the programme manager for Bridging the Gaps, an EPRSC funded project that encouraged cross-disciplinary solutions for urban sustainability. Before becoming the Deputy Director for Grand Challenges, he was the coordinator for the Grand Challenges of Sustainable Cities and Transformative Technology and the UCL London Agenda.

James holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster, and a PhD in Transport Studies from UCL; his thesis investigated the role of cognitive mapping skills in children’s mobility.

E: j.paskins@ucl.ac.uk

> More on The Six UCL Grand Challenges 

Katherine Welch

Katherine Welch
Deputy Director of Partnerships

Katherine joined the team in 2017 and is responsible for supporting UCL researchers and academics to connect their work with strategic partners across academia, policy, third sector and professional organisations. She is leading the UCL Grand Challenge programme on Artificial Intelligence and work and the centre for informed decision making, as well as joint collaborations with UCL Public Policy and the UCL Pro-Vice Provost UK.

Katherine was previously Deputy Director and Manager of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, establishing alongside the Director the Institute's research, teaching and engagement agendas. Prior to joining UCL, Katherine worked in the mining sector as a journalist and editor for global mining publication, Mining Journal.

Katherine has a first class honours in Geology and a Masters in Quaternary Science.

E: k.welch@ucl.ac.uk

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Nina Quach

Nina Quach
Head of Programmes for the Grand Challenges of Global Health and Human Wellbeing

Nina joined the team in 2018 and creates opportunities for researchers at UCL to collaborate on innovative and impactful cross-disciplinary projects. Nina is one of the hosts and producers of Disruptive Voices, a podcast that encourages critical thinking across a variety of topics. She also leads the organisation of the annual UCL-Lancet Lecture.  

Prior to joining UCL, Nina worked at Imperial College London to support consultancy and has also worked in a climate charity. 

Nina has a bachelor’s degree in Biology (Université Pierre et Marie Curie) and in Social Sciences (Sciences Po Paris), and a joint MSc in Environmental Sciences and Policy.

E: n.quach@ucl.ac.uk

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Siobhan Morris

Photograph of Siobhan
Head of Programmes for the Grand Challenges of Cultural Understanding and Justice & Equality

Siobhan joined the team in July 2018 and is responsible for a broad portfolio working with academics and external partners to facilitate impactful research, cross-disciplinary innovations, and cross-sector collaborations. More broadly, Siobhan is an experienced knowledge broker, working to cultivate and manage strategic high-level relationships and leading and managing award-winning research projects, centres, and public engagement activities.

Specialising in equalities and structural inequities in UK society, she has published extensively on intersectional inequalities in the UK. She is also a host of Disruptive Voices, Grand Challenges' podcast series.

Prior to joining UCL, Siobhan worked at Birkbeck College, University of London on a Wellcome-funded research project and Centre for the Study of Internationalism. Siobhan has an honours and a Masters in History from the University of Edinburgh.

E: siobhan.morris@ucl.ac.uk

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Dr Marina Chang

Head of Programmes for the Grand Challenges of Sustainable Cities and Transformative Technology

Dr Marina Chang

Marina joined the team in August 2022. Her career has enabled her to cross boundaries between academia, industry, businesses, public sector and community / volunteer sector. She has a proven track record of inspiring and empowering numerous ‘researchers’ inside and outside the university to initiate, debate and collaborate for the kind of research, innovation and global engagement that is required to address many grand challenges the world is facing. 


Prior to joining UCL, she was an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University. Her research has focused on food and the city; food, health and wellbeing; food commons; decolonising food geographies; agroecology and data science; and the heritage grain movement in the UK.

She holds a BA in History and Philosophy from National Taiwan University, and a MSc in Urban Studies and a PhD in Development Planning, both from UCL. 

E: marina.chang@ucl.ac.uk

> More on Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities
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